So. Yesterday was a real peach of a day, wasn't it? There's always something terrible in the news--on the daily, has been for ages, even before our administration was run by a giant sycophantic, narcissistic...you get the idea.
However, today was something different. Today was me finding out that someone I thought was one way was VERY much another. It'll be no surprise that I'm a giant nerd. I always have been, I suppose, even, as the hipsters say, when it wasn't cool. I don't want to be one of those people who disavow knowledge or claim that they always knew something that, to be honest, you just can't always know.
Here's the thing. I've listened to the Nerdist podcast from the very beginning, and up til recently wouldn't miss an episode. I rooted for all the guys, and was happy to see them getting the chance to live their dreams. I believed, through having heard them talk through the years, that they weren't perfect but were pretty silly, cool guys who just enjoyed the things they enjoyed and worked hard to get where they were. This includes Chris Hardwick.
Evidently, as you'll now no doubt have heard...it seems that's a very wrong impression. Seems like Hardwick has, in fact, been very different in his relationships than the person that he portrays in public, and that he's in fact abusive in very many ways, ways that harmed someone else I was a fan of just via "internet" and "celebrity" and whatnot.
The reason I'm writing this is because I feel like there's things that need to be said.
To me, this revelation is a huge deal.
For one, let's be honest about the internet and podcasting and all that. If you listen to a podcast long enough, you get to know the voices. Especially with podcasts like Nerdist, because they talk a lot about their personal lives, moreso than someone like Ira Glass over on NPR and stuff, you feel like you know them a little bit. Especially if you've been there since the beginning. For me this isn't exclusive to Nerdist, as I also followed the Pioneer Woman since she was just a little food blogger from OK (how the hell did that blow up to as big an empire as it is, btw?) Obviously I have eclectic taste in people and things. Anyway...the internet and social media create a different kind of intimacy level than TV and stuff have in the past, because in some cases, you'll actually interact with these people. In my case, I wrote about these people--Chris Hardwick, Matt Mira, Jonah Ray, all. I always knew I didn't know them as people in any "real" way, but to find out that one of them is SO far from the person they portray is jarring at the very least, and very disheartening.
Second--you can't "call" it, and it's not a point of pride if somehow you "called" it. The thing is that Chloe herself didn't call it, and to assume that you would have known better is worse than arrogance. Maybe you thought he was obnoxious or a jerk. Lots of people thought that. People I am friends with thought that. You "calling" it just doesn't matter, in the end, because it doesn't change the fact that the person who got very, very hurt is any less hurt.
I guess one thing that gets me whenever stuff like this happens is how much people think that they know. That they were sure that this person was like this. It's bullshit.
The truth is, so many people walk around with a smile, giggle, laugh and go out like they've got no single care in the world who are literally on the edge. They're literally being eaten alive, crushed by depression, anxiety, abused or just feel hopeless and alone, but they'll be the life of the party, the confidante you can trust to help you with your own problems, or that person that seems totally together and unflappable. Thinking you know is not knowing.
At the same time, that guy you think is funny, sweet, and on the right side of things, who cares about things like women's rights and children and animals and wouldn't hurt a single thing on earth could just as easily literally be darker than you could ever dream, and could've greeted you with a smile every day, even been the most helpful, wonderful person to you. I don't talk about this much because it used to embarass me, but when I was a manager at a pizza place, I worked with a guy we'll call Ted who was helpful, super efficient at what he did, always had a smile and a joke for me, helped me through some of the most stressful situations I faced at that job....and, a year after I quit that job, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend by stuffing her in the trunk of his car and leaving her to die in the desert heat after a domestic dispute. It was shocking. I literally had no idea he was capable of even being slightly dickish, let alone taking someone's life. I was and still am embarrassed somehow that I didn't know. How could I not have seen that sort of evil, you know? How would I not have known, having worked alongside him every day?
People are going to be demanding to know why Jonah and Lydia and Matt didn't know, why Wil Wheaton didn't know...and it's awful. Being a total scumbag hurts more than just you, and his actions are going to have wide repercussions for them, whether they knew or didn't know. That makes me really sad, too.
I'm older and wiser now, I suppose, but I can tell you. You just.can't. know.all.the.time.
Read Chloe's words. She didn't know. And even when she thought she did, he had her coming back with moments of compassion.
Don't self-congratulate because you think you knew something. You know nothing, in the end, about what's happening with and to the people around you unless you care enough to reach out and ask them. The most important thing you can do in situations like these, when you find out that things aren't what you thought they were, even if it's a "celebrity" and it doesn't touch your life, is to start to realize how much you don't know instead of insisting on how much you do.
And that's all I've got to say about that.